I wanted to gift my husband a day off of yard work for his birthday this year, so I asked a friend of mine who works with high school students if he knew anyone who would be interested. We agreed that three boys would come over one Saturday for $15 an hour, for three hours’ worth of work (so basically, each boy would make almost $50). What I wanted done was just basic yard maintenance that had been neglected due to my husband’s busy work and school schedule.
Only one boy showed up when that Saturday came. I’m not sure of the reasons the other two didn’t show, but I am going to guess they just downright flaked judging by how embarrassed my friend was for recommending these guys.
Funny enough, I keep hearing similar stories of teenagers and 20-somethings that would rather not work. How do you kick this bug of entitlement out of your own kids’ lives? Here are three solutions.
Stop Being the Milk Cow
It’s hard to just switch off being our children’s main providers. This is why it should start at an early age. Obviously, I am not telling you to make your three-year-old pitch in for the mortgage payment. However, at an early age, you can show discipline and not buy your children too much. Kids are so much fun to shop for, and it is a delight to see the joy in their eyes over a gift. As parents, we need to exercise discipline in how much non-essentials we buy our children and how often, so that they too can learn discipline.
This then gradually grows into children earning an allowance and paying for their own wants. As a teen, your child should be expected to pay for their own cell phone and nonessential extras. Finally, as a young adult, your adult child should be responsible for paying the majority of their own bills and encouraged to move out on their own, even if it means they have to learn how to stretch a dollar. The lesson is hard, but essential for all young adults to learn.
Don’t Bail Them Out
There comes a time in your parenting where you need to step away from protecting your child from everything. They need to experience the weight of responsibility and the natural consequences that come with being irresponsible. As a teen, these lessons might be minor. For example, if they constantly forget important school books or sports bags at home, then you need to stop bringing them to school. Yes, this means they will get in trouble, and they will get mad at you. However, it also will help them exercise better caution.
Teens and young adults need to realize that mommy and daddy are not going to bail them out every time they need money or messed up. That is just how life works.
Make Them Keep Their Word
Essentially, the parents of those boys who committed to the yard work should have forced them to go, unless under very extreme circumstances. I am not saying this for my sake, but for the boys’ sake. They needed their discipline muscles to be strengthened. Most people, especially young people, are lacking in self-discipline, and I truly believe it is because their parents don’t make them follow through. I can say this because it is the exact reason why I lack discipline in many areas. I was given a free pass too many times when I was younger.
Now that I am older, I wish I was more disciplined, and I continue to train myself to become a disciplined person. Now as a parent, I am determined to help my daughters learn how to be disciplined and productive, while still enjoying life. Isn’t this what we really want for our children? We want them to have the discipline and drive to make their dreams and passions in life a reality.
It’s hard to fight the norm of a self-entitled culture, but the extra effort is so worth it. Parents, share how you help your kids fight the entitlement bug.
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